There are 2.65 million carers in Australia, making a difference every day to the lives of family members and friends they care for living with disability, chronic health, or mental health conditions or who are frail aged. Caring can be a joyful experience but it can be tough at times.
Carers invest energy and compassion into their caring role, that can impact on their own wellbeing. Supporting carers to look after their wellbeing brings benefits to them and to those they care for. To mark Carers Week (10-17 October), and the enormous contribution carers make to our communities, Nichola Marsonet, one of CatholicCare’s carer service experts, shares 5 tips to support your wellbeing as a carer.
- Commit to small changes
Research consistently shows the best changes to make that truly last are small changes practised every day. Try to commit to just 5 minutes each day to find new ways to help you recharge and refresh. If you can, block out that time in your diary, set a reminder on your phone or leave a note for yourself. Always remember to be kind to yourself if it takes time to make this a habit that sticks.
- Be present
Mulling over past events or worrying about the future can make it hard to relax and give an over-worked mind a rest. Just for 5 minutes, try being in the moment. Perhaps when you wake up, before you jump out of bed, take 5 minutes to close your eyes, take a deep breath and listen to the sounds you hear. Can you hear the birds, the sounds of people starting their days, or perhaps other family members chatting outside the door? Practising being present, known as mindfulness, is a well-researched strategy to boost wellbeing. Find out more at carergateway.gov.au/step-by-step-guide-to-mindfulness
- Enjoy nature
Studies have shown that being in nature can build our confidence and provide us with a new sense of purpose. 5 minutes spent in the garden with a cup of tea, a short walk in the park or a relaxing picnic by the river can all help us find calm and feel happier.
- Feeling grateful
Taking 5 minutes each day to write down one thing you feel grateful for can help to shift a mind that is stressed and overwhelmed to one with a little more clarity and hope. Find a pocketbook and note down at the close of each day, one event that you feel grateful for. It may be a family member who called for a chat, a friend who sent a thoughtful text, the garden you were able to enjoy during the day or a child’s hug. Savour the moment whilst you write. Reading back over many grateful moments can bring a smile to our faces.
- Ask for help
If you have tried a few self-help strategies but things still feel too much, it’s important to reach out for help. Carers can contact the Carer Gateway for support, anywhere in Australia, on 1800 422 737. Lifeline is also available 24 hours a day by phoning 13 11 14.